Random thoughts are displaying in the darkness of my eyes. My mind is going crazy being forced to think of nothing. I focus on my breath and move my attention to the third eye. — I hope they will serve oatmeal for breakfast. I need to purchase tickets to Udaipur. Where are we going after Udaipur? Sit up straight. Focus.— the thoughts creep in and I have no control. —What exactly am I looking for? — I question while sitting still, in a large room, at 6 am surrounded by a group of other meditating seekers.
For a week Iza and I are living the Ashram life, where a strict spiritual schedule is set and mandatory silence from dinner to lunch is enforced. We wake up to a silence meditation at 5:30 am and go to bed at 9pm after a guided meditation. Our daily activates changed drastically form the nomadic life style we have been living in the past 20 months to a strict repetitive daily schedule.
5:30 am wake up bell
6:00 -6:30 am Silent meditation
6:30 – 6:45 am Chanting
6:45 – 7:00 am Yogi Cleansing
7:00 – 7:15 am Breathing exercises
7:15 – 8:45 am Hatha Yoga
9:00 am Breakfast
10:00 – 10:30 Karma Yoga
10:30 am Meditative walk
12:30 pm Lunch
3:00 pm Lecture discussion
4:00 – 5:30 pm Ashtanga Yoga
5:30 – 5:45 pm Breathing exercises
Sunset Ritual pooja and sacred singing
7:30 pm Dinner
8:30 – 9:00 pm Guided Meditation
—It’s like being back in school, waking up and wanting to hide back under the cover.
What is an Ashram? By definition an Ashram is a hermitage, monastic community, or other place of religious retreat for Hindus. We are not Hindu, but we wanted the experience. It’s like from the movie Eat, Pray and Love where Julia Roberts found her self, and we found the Phool Chatti Ashram.
In India yoga is practiced a bit different from the west it’s not market as an exercise or used to sell merchandise. It focuses more on making balance and creating equanimity to live in peace, good health and harmony with the greater whole. Essentially yoga is about a spiritual way of life, not just an after work exercise.
— Gather in a circle, we are about to go on a meditative nature walk. You are to walk in silence, in arm distance, absolutely no talking, no contact with the locals, walk barefoot. Follow me.— Said lifeless Randy, the American guy who is one of the three teachers in the Ashram.
Let me rethink if I want to go, this walk is definitely starting with lots of negative vibes. I can’t help but to question Randy’s boot camp, negative way of communicating his knowledge to us. Is this what Ashram living does to you? Makes you lifeless, and angry looking? Everybody walked in silence to benefit from the silence mediation and to acknowledge the earth and it’s strength. I couldn’t help but to think about Randy, and his negative energy.
Silence was still mandatory when we ate all meals. Food was served in a dinning hall where everybody sat on the floor and was served from a bucket. Belly growling I sat patiently, while the smell of fresh Dal, veggies, and chapati filled my nostrils and triggered drooling while waiting for the prayer to be said. It was the norm; everyday we ate dal (beans) in sauce, veggies, rice and chapatti. The food was great, I enjoyed it majorly, the combo was perfect for fast elimination and it tasted good. Surprisingly I really enjoyed eating in silence, I appreciated the flavor and I chewed slower. Iza and I will continue to follow this habit, no more talking while we eat.
The Ashram is located at the foothills of Himalayas, on the banks of Ganga. Where the holy river flows rapidly humming melodic sounds away from the chaotic city life. The place is a great getaway to calm and relax, during the day we had 2 hours to our self for recap of self-awareness. Iza and I used some of that time to hang by the river and observe the rapid water flow with occasional rafts gliding by on the waves. Following the wave I was unaware of the giant wasp that sat on my hand, when I tried to brush the funny feeling he injected his toxic fluid into my thumb.
—Awww, awww, shit.. awww— I screamed, and quickly put my hand in the cold holy Ganga. Observing the swelling, I was in serious pain. — What was that for? I did Karma yoga today. It was at 10:30 where I cleaned the toilet and took out the garbage. Every day we did Karma yoga, in Karma we cleaning the Ashram. You ask if we stayed there for free? Oh no, we paid around $125 for the week, but Karma yoga is Karma yoga. Maybe I should have cleaned the toilet on my knees using my toothbrush. For the rest of the week my right hand looked like a fat kid’s puffy hands, and I refused to scrub the Ashram.
One hour a day we burned for discussions, there were some interesting topics we discussed mainly focused around the 8 limbs of yoga and how to apply them to everyday life. Iza skipped most of them —If I have to interact with this guy and feel his negative energy then no thanks. I am not even motivated to go.— she said.
Then there were Asanas (yoga), twice a day we stretched, balanced, and flexed our muscles to get strong. The teacher Lalita Ji, who is the main woman in charge of running the Ashram she was the leader of all the activities including teaching the Asanas. — Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale— She kept repeating while we did some weird moves. Not my favorite yoga teacher, actually I didn’t like her style of teaching yoga. I didn’t think she paid attention to the important details of the moves. Both Iza and I didn’t learn anything from her class. If you are looking for good asana growth, this is not the place.
Sitting straight, in Pranayama we enjoyed inhaling deep holding the breath and releasing with control. It gave us energy and extended our lung capacity, preparing us for the rest of polluted India. — Inhale, hold your breath and exhale.
Every morning we cleaned our nasal passage with neti pot. It was fun to flush out the nasal cavities, I stuck one side of the pot into my nose and saline came out the other. Weird, but cool, I cleaned out the past 20 months worth of pollution and dust. Gross, yet refreshing.
Days passed and we continue to do the same thing everyday, time was passing quickly as we looked forward to lunch, dinner and the in between activates. An hour before dinner we gathered for chanting, sacred singing repeating the names of Hindu gods, Hare Krishna was the main hit, and Shiva Shambo made the room vibe. Everybody was on his or her own tune and they were all out of tune. Lalita Ji was in charge of the deep drum beat and Thor played what looked like an accordion He was the meditating leader with the positive tune in chanting and all of the Ashram, He was the only sole that I felt connected to and who sent out good vibration and guided the evening’s meditation to a deep state. During one of the meditating classes Iza felt her hands raise with out raising her mind was doing things without movement, it was deep. I like Thor he is a cool American, with dreadlocks, and who wears all white. I wish the rest of the people in Phool Chati Ashram had his energy.
As the week was coming to an end sadness appeared when the though of leaving came around. We walked into the Ashram, frustrated, angry and full of dust, in one week annoying things slowly became un important, we turned the negative into positive and accepted how things are. I was calm and regulated. Iza was, smiling and happy to finally have an appetite. We met some interesting personas and made new friends for the road. Russel our neighbor and the two Mexican chicas Fabiola and Jezlia toped the cherry for on the Ashram living.
— I still don’t know what I am looking for. Do you?
|YES!!! We had oatmeal and fruits everyday for breakfast.|
|Breakfast was served on the roof with the sun shine.|
|Everybody cleaned up their plate.|
|In silente meditation while on the nature walk|
|Phool Chatti Ashram style and vibe.|
|On a nature walk, arm distance apart.|
|Drooling, while waiting for lunch to be served.|
|Last night we had a huge bam fire, with tea and sweets|
|Last day fire ceremony on he balcony.|
|The happy, positive, changed people.|